All parents experience challenges in raising their children, but parents of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender) kids have some unique hurdles to overcome. LGBT children experience many physical, mental and emotional difficulties growing up, which is why a strong support system at home is critical. If you are a parent of a LGBT child, here some tips for how you can best support your child and help them on their individual journey.
Engage and listen.
Your LGBT child deserves the same level of care, respect and support as a non-LGBT child. Spend time with your child and let them express themselves to you without judgment. The more you listen and show empathy, the more your child will open up to you about what he or she may be going through. Rather than insert your own opinions or pressure them to communicate, it’s best to let your child express themselves to you at their own pace.
One of the most helpful things you can do to support your LGBT child is by educating yourself about sexual orientation and gender identity. Do your research and learn the correct terminology to communicate about these matters with your child and others in your life. By challenging yourself to learn the facts and go beyond LGBT stereotypes, you’ll be better equipped to positively support your child and develop a better understanding of what they are experiencing.
Explore resources in your community.
Seeking resources for your LGBT child can play a significant role in supporting them and giving them the tools to thrive. Learning about community groups for LGBT teens or a Gay/Straight Alliance at your child’s school can help your child get to know other LGBT kids and feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with others. Additionally, there are many community groups for parents of LGBT children, which can provide you with valuable insight about how to support your child.
Remember your child is more than LGBT.
Just because your child is lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender does not mean your entire world should revolve around their sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s important that you make other aspects of your child’s life a priority as well, such as their interests, hobbies, friends, or part-time jobs. Encourage your child to explore as many outlets as possible and remember that being LGBT is just one aspect of your child’s life.
In addition to parental support, many LGBT children can significantly benefit from counseling in a safe and comfortable environment. Set up a free consultation today with San Antonio-based therapist, Joseph Montaldi (LCSW), specializing in LGBT issues of children, teens and adults.